The Cost of Delaying Action to Stem Climate Change (PDF)
Source: Council of Economic Advisers (White House)
The signs of climate change are all around us. The average temperature in the United States during the past decade was 0.8 ° Celsius (1.5 ° Fahrenheit) warmer than the 1901 – 1960 average, and the last decade was the warmest on record both in the United States and globally. Global sea levels are currently rising at approximately 1.25 inches per decade, and the rate of increase appears to be accelerating. Climate change is having different impacts across regions within the United States. In the West, heat waves have become more frequent and more intense, while heavy downpours are increasing throughout the lower 48 States and Alaska, especially in the Midwest and Northeast. The scientific consensus is that these changes, and many others, are largely consequences of anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases.
The emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO 2) harms others in a way that is not reflected in the price of carbon – based energy, that is, CO 2 emissions create a negative externality. Because the price of carbon – based energy does not refl ect the full costs, or economic damages, of CO 2 emissions , market forces result in a level of CO2 emissions that is too high . Because of this market failure, public policies are needed to reduce CO 2 emissions and thereby to limit the damage to economies and the natural world from further climate change.
There is a vigorous public debate over whether to act now to stem climate change or instead to delay implementing mitigation policies until a future date. This report examines the economic consequences of delaying implementing such policies and reaches two main conclusions, both of which point to the benefits of implementing mitigation policies now and to the net costs of delaying taking such actions.
Presidential Memorandum — Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators
Pollinators contribute substantially to the economy of the United States and are vital to keeping fruits, nuts, and vegetables in our diets. Honey bee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year in the United States. Over the past few decades, there has been a significant loss of pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies, from the environment. The problem is serious and requires immediate attention to ensure the sustainability of our food production systems, avoid additional economic impact on the agricultural sector, and protect the health of the environment.
Pollinator losses have been severe. The number of migrating Monarch butterflies sank to the lowest recorded population level in 2013-14, and there is an imminent risk of failed migration. The continued loss of commercial honey bee colonies poses a threat to the economic stability of commercial beekeeping and pollination operations in the United States, which could have profound implications for agriculture and food. Severe yearly declines create concern that bee colony losses could reach a point from which the commercial pollination industry would not be able to adequately recover. The loss of native bees, which also play a key role in pollination of crops, is much less studied, but many native bee species are believed to be in decline. Scientists believe that bee losses are likely caused by a combination of stressors, including poor bee nutrition, loss of forage lands, parasites, pathogens, lack of genetic diversity, and exposure to pesticides.
Given the breadth, severity, and persistence of pollinator losses, it is critical to expand Federal efforts and take new steps to reverse pollinator losses and help restore populations to healthy levels. These steps should include the development of new public-private partnerships and increased citizen engagement. Therefore, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby direct the following:
Section 1. Establishing the Pollinator Health Task Force…
Federal Workforce Statistics Sources: OPM and OMB (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
This report describes online tools, reports, and data compilations created by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that contain statistics about federal employees and the federal workforce.
The report also describes key characteristics of each resource and briefly discusses selected methodological differences, with the intention of facilitating the selection of appropriate data for specific purposes. This report is not intended to be a definitive list of all information on the federal workforce. It describes significant and recurring products that contain specific data often requested by Members or congressional staff.
White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Open Government Plan
Source: White House, Office of Science and Technology
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) today released its 2014 Open Government Plan. The OSTP plan highlights three flagship efforts as well as the team’s ongoing work to embed the open government principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration into its activities.
OSTP advises the President on the effects of science and technology on domestic and international affairs. The work of the office includes policy efforts encompassing science, environment, energy, national security, technology, and innovation. This plan builds off of the 2010 and 2012 Open Government Plans, updating progress on past initiatives and adding new subject areas based on 2014 guidance.
Agencies began releasing biennial Open Government Plans in 2010, with direction from the 2009 Open Government Directive. These plans serve as a roadmap for agency openness efforts, explaining existing practices and announcing new endeavors to be completed over the coming two years. Agencies build these plans in consultation with civil society stakeholders and the general public. Open government is a vital component of the President’s Management Agenda and our overall effort to ensure the government is expanding economic growth and opportunity for all Americans.
Increasing Tourism to Spur Economic Growth (PDF)
Source: Executive Office of the President
Travel and tourism is a major driver of the U.S. economy. It supports millions of jobs across the country and furthers U.S. strategic and diplomatic interests.
In May 2012, the Administration launched the National Travel and Tourism Strategy for expanding travel to and within the United States, and the President set an ambitious goal of attracting and welcoming 100 million international visitors annually by the end of 2021, who are estimated to spend $250 billion on an annual basis. Two years later, we are on track to meet our goal, and we have made significant progress on specific actions to encourage and make it easier for international travelers to visit the United States…
This report highlights the many economic benefits to the United States from increased travel and tourism and the progress that the Administration is making in implementing the President’s strategy.
Big Data: Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Value (PDF)
Source: White House, Executive Office of the President
We are living in the midst of a social, economic, and technological revolution. How we communicate, socialize, spend leisure time, and conduct business has moved onto the Internet. The Internet has in turn moved into our phones, into devices spreading around our homes and cities, and into the factories that power the industrial economy. The resulting explosion of data and discovery is changing our world.
In January, you asked us to conduct a 90 – day study to examine how big data will transform the way we live and work and alter the relationships between government, citizens, businesses, and consumers. This review focuses on how the public and private sectors can maximize the benefits of big data while minimizing its risks. It also identifies opportunities for big data to grow our economy, improve health and education, and make our nation safer and more energy efficient.
While big data unquestionably increases the potential of government power to accrue unchecked, it also hold within it solutions that can enhance accountability, privacy, and the rights of citizens. Properly implemented, big data will become an historic driver of progress, helping our nation perpetuate the civic and economic dynamism that has long been its hallmark.
Big data technologies will be transformative in every sphere of life . T he knowledge discovery they make possible raises considerable questions about how our framework for privacy protection applies in a big data ecosystem . Big data also raises other concerns. A significant finding of this report is that big data analytics have the potential to eclipse longstanding civil rights protections in how personal information is used in housing, credit, employment, health, education, and the marketplace. Americans’ relationship with data should expand, not diminish, their opportunities and potential.
We are building the future we will inherit. The United States is better suited than any nation on earth to ensure the digital revolution continues to work for individual empowerment and social good. We are pleased to present this report’s recommendations on how we can embrace big data technologies while at the same time protecting fundamental values like privacy, fairness, and self – determination. We are committed to the initiatives and reforms it proposes. The dialogue we set in motion today will help us remain true to our values even as big data reshapes the world around us.
Suitability and Security Processes Review Report to the President — February 2014 (PDF)
Source: Office of Management and Budget (via Federation of American Scientists)
In the Fall of 2013, the President directed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to conduct a 120-day review of Federal employee suitability and contractor fitness determinations as well as security clearance procedures. This Review complimented related efforts of the Department of Defense (DoD) with respect to physical and personnel security and of the National Security Council (NSC) and OMB on access to and security of classified information.
This work was carried out by the Suitability and Security Clearance Performance Accountability Council (PAC). Chaired by OMB’s Deputy Director for Management, the PAC includes the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), in their respective roles as Security and Suitability Executive Agents (see Appendix A). The Senior Review Panel (hereafter referred to as the Panel), comprised of representatives from OMB, ODNI, OPM, DoD, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), as well as representatives from the NSC, drove an intensive interagency review to assess risks inherent in the current security, suitability, and credentialing processes and identify recommended solutions to safeguard our personnel and protect our nation’s most sensitive information.
The Review addressed suitability and security investigations for civilian, military, and contractor personnel. The same investigative and adjudicative standards apply to both Federal employees and contractors who receive clearances, as the work to protect our national security is no less critical when the work is performed by contractors. The Review also examined the work performed by each group in conducting these investigations. The current practice of utilizing contract investigators to collect relevant information is an appropriate practice and consistent with regulations, provided the necessary oversight, metrics, and controls are in place. Our recommendations include improvements in the areas of contractor oversight, accountability, and quality metrics going forward.
This Report presents a set of recommendations that establish new priorities for reform, while accelerating efforts already underway. These priorities include improving access to relevant information, especially state and local law enforcement records, and accelerating the shift to a continuous evaluation model across government; improving risk management approaches to reduce vulnerabilities in our current processes, including reduction of the total number of clearance holders and the backlog of periodic reinvestigations; and improving enterprise operations, to include strengthening oversight and government-wide implementation efforts while effectively managing limited resources. As part of its ongoing responsibilities, the PAC will be accountable for driving these changes and holding agencies accountable for implementing approved recommendations.
This Report first gives an overview of the current processes for conducting investigations and adjudications of all categories of personnel, and then summarizes the key conclusions and recommendations of the Panel, concluding with proposed next steps.
Economic Report of the President (2014)
Source: Council of Economic Advisors (via US GPO)
The Economic Report of the President is an annual report written by the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. It overviews the nation’s economic progress using text and extensive data appendices. The Economic Report of the President is transmitted to Congress no later than ten days after the submission of the Budget of the United States Government. Supplementary reports can be issued to the Congress which contain additional and/or revised recommendations.
The Economic Report of the President is issued by the Executive Office of the President and the Council of Economic Advisers. It includes:
Current and foreseeable trends and annual numerical goals concerning topics such as employment, production, real income and Federal budget outlays.
- Employment objectives for significant groups of the labor force.
- Annual numeric goals.
- A program for carrying out program objectives.
The Economic Report of the President is transmitted to Congress no later than ten days after the submission of the Budget of the United States Government. Supplementary reports can be issued to the Congress which contain additional and/or revised recommendations.
Liberty and Security in a Changing World: Report and Recommendations of The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies
Today, President Obama met with his Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies — Richard Clarke, Michael Morell, Geoffrey Stone, Cass Sunstein and Peter Swire — to discuss the report they submitted to the President on December 13.
This meeting offered President Obama an opportunity to hear directly from the group’s members and discuss the thinking behind the 46 recommendations in their report. The President noted that the group’s report represented a consensus view, particularly significant given the broad scope of the members’ expertise in counterterrorism, intelligence, oversight, privacy and civil liberties. The President again stated his expectation that, in light of new technologies, the United States use its intelligence collection capabilities in a way that optimally protects our national security while supporting our foreign policy, respecting privacy and civil liberties, maintaining the public trust, and reducing the risk of unauthorized disclosure. The President expressed his personal appreciation to the group members for the extraordinary work that went into producing this comprehensive and high quality report, and outlined for the group how he intends to utilize their work.
Over the next several weeks, as we bring to a close the Administration’s overall review of signals intelligence, the President will work with his national security team to study the Review Group’s report, and to determine which recommendations we should implement. The President will also continue consulting with Congress as reform proposals are considered in each chamber.
New Report from the Council of Economic Advisers: The Recent Slowdown in Health Care Cost Growth and the Role of the Affordable Care Act
New Report from the Council of Economic Advisers: The Recent Slowdown in Health Care Cost Growth and the Role of the Affordable Care Act
Source: Council of Economic Advisers
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed against a backdrop of decades of rapid growth in health care spending, and one of the ACA’s key goals was to root out serious inefficiencies in the United States health care system that increase costs and compromise patients’ quality of care. Recent data show that health care spending and prices are growing at their slowest rates in decades; it appears that something has changed for the better. While this marked slowdown likely has many causes, and these causes are not yet fully understood, the available evidence suggests that the ACA is contributing to these trends, and, moreover, is helping to improve quality of care for patients. Today the White House Council of Economic Advisers released a new report analyzing recent trends in health costs, the forces driving those trends, and their likely economic benefits.
FACT SHEET: New Administration Proposal To Help Consumers Facing Cancellations
Source: White House
The law aimed to make Marketplace coverage optional for the less than 5 percent of Americans who have individual market coverage that they want to keep. Health plans that consumers had when the law was passed in 2010 are “grandfathered” in and do not have to adopt most of the new consumer protections. But, in order to provide consumers with better protections and coverage, health insurers in the individual and small group markets have to adopt consumer protections for any new plans purchased after 2010. In some instances, they are adopting those protections by canceling current policies and replacing them with new and sometimes more costly plans.
Many consumers receiving these cancellation letters will be able to find a better deal with financial assistance or better coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, but we know a small slice of these consumers may not be eligible for a plan at a more affordable price. Last week President Obama directed his team to explore administrative actions that could be taken to help these consumers who are receiving cancellation letters.
To meet that commitment, today, HHS is using its administrative authority to:
- Allow insurers to renew their current policies for current enrollees without adopting the 2014 market rule changes. This will give consumers in the individual and small group markets the choice of staying in their plan or joining a new Marketplace plan next year. HHS will consider the impact of this transitional policy in assessing whether to extend it beyond 2014.
- Require insurers offering such renewals to ensure consumers are informed about their options. Specifically, insurers offering these renewals must inform all consumers who either already have or will receive cancellation letters about the protections their renewed plan will not include and how they can learn about the new options available to them through the Marketplaces which will offer better protections and possible financial assistance.
- To protect against the potential impacts this change will have on premiums, HHS will adjust the temporary risk corridor program which is designed to stabilize premiums as changes are implemented.
Impacts and Costs of the Government Shutdown
Source: Office of Management and Budget
As the President has said, the shutdown that occurred last month inflicted completely unnecessary damage on our economy and took a toll on families and businesses across the country. Today, OMB is releasing a report that catalogs the breadth and depth of this damage, and details the various impacts and costs of the October 2013 Federal government shutdown.
The report explains in detail the economic, budgetary, and programmatic costs of the shutdown. These costs include economic disruption, negative impacts on Federal programs and services that support American businesses and individuals, costs to the government, and impacts on the Federal workforce.
White House Report — The Financial Crisis: Five Years Later (PDF)
Source: White House
Five years ago this week, a financial crisis unlike any in generations rocked Wall Street, turning a recession that was already hammering Main Street into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. In the months before Presid ent Obama took office, the economy was shrinking at a rate of over 8 %. Businesses were shedding 800,000 jobs a month. Banks had stopped lending to families and small businesses. The iconic American auto industry – the heartbeat of American manufacturing – was on the brink of collapse. It was a crisis that would ultimately cost millions of Americans their jobs, their homes, and their savings – and the decades – long erosion of middle – class security was laid bare for all to see and feel.
President Obama ac ted quickly to rescue the auto industry, cut taxes for middle – class families, and keep teachers in the classrooms and first responders on our streets. He took on Wall Street, ending taxpayer bailouts, putting in place tough new rules on big banks, and est ablishing new consumer protections that cracked down on the worst practices of mortgage lenders and credit card companies. He changed a tax code too skewed in favor of the wealthiest Americans, locking in tax cuts for 98% of working Americans, and asked t hose at the top to pay a little more. And he took on a broken health care system and invested in new American technologies to reverse our addiction to foreign oil.
Five years later, America has fought our way back. Because of these tough choices, over t he past three and a half years, our businesses have created seven and a half million new jobs. Manufacturers are adding jobs for the first time since the mid – 1990’s. We generate more renewable energy than ever, and our exports are at all – time highs. Hea lth care costs are growing at the slowest rate in 50 years – and our deficit has fallen by 50% since the President took office.
Thanks to the grit and resilience of the American people, we’ve cleared away the rubble from the financial crisis and begun to lay a new foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth. And the last thing we can afford right now is a decision from a minority of Republicans in Congress to throw our economy back into crisis by refusing to pay our country’s bills or shutting down the government. As Presi dent Obama has said, we’re not where we need to be yet – the challenges facing the middle class weren’t created overnight, and they won’t be solved overnight. That’s why we need to keep building on that foundation by focusing on the cornerstones of a stro ng, secure middle – class life: a good job, a quality education, a home of your own, affordable health care when you need it, and a secure retirement. That’s the conviction that has driven President Obama since he first ran for this office – that our econom y works best when it grows not from the top – down, but from the middle – class out – that we are stronger when everyone who works hard has a chance to get ahead.
This report describes 15 key elements of the response to the financial crises – providing an ove rview of the state of the economy and the financial system, the actions the Administration took in conjunction with the Federal Reserve and other regulators , and where we are now…
Reauthorizing the Office of National Drug Control Policy: Issues for Consideration (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is located in the Executive Office of the President and has the responsibility for creating policies, priorities, and objectives for the federal Drug Control Program. This national program is aimed at reducing the use, manufacturing, and trafficking of illicit drugs and the reduction of drug-related crime and violence and of drug- related health consequences. The director of ONDCP has primary responsibilities of developing a comprehensive National Drug Control Strategy (Strategy) to direct the nation’s anti-drug efforts; developing a National Drug Control Budget (B udget) to implement the National Drug Control Strategy, including determining the adequacy of the drug control budgets submitted by contributing federal Drug Control Program agencies; and evaluating the effectiveness of the National Drug Control Strategy implementation by the various agencies contributing to the Drug Control Program. Authorization for ONDCP expired at the end of FY2010, but it has continued to receive appropriations. Congress, while continuously charged with ONDCP’s oversight, is now faced with its possible reauthorization.
In May 2009, Director R. Gil Kerlikowske called for an end to use of the term “war on drugs.” This is in part because while drug use was previously considered a law enforcement or criminal justice problem, it has transitioned to being viewed more as a public health problem. Indeed, the Obama Administration has indicated that a comprehensive strategy should include a range of prevention, treatment, and law enforcement elements. The 2013 National Drug Control Strategy outlines seven core areas—ranging from strengthening international partnerships to focusing on intervention and treatment efforts in health care—aimed at reducing both illicit drug use and its consequences. The overall goal is to achieve a 15% reduction in the rate of drug use and its consequences over a five-year period (2010-2015).
In creating the National Drug Control Strategy, ONDCP consults with the various federal Drug Control Program agencies. ONDCP then reviews th eir respective drug budgets and incorporates them into the National Drug Control Budget (Budget), which is submitted to Congress as part of the annual appropriations process. As requeste d by Congress in the ONDCP Reauthorization Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-469), the Budget was restructur ed in FY2012, incorporating the activities and budgets of 19 additional federal agencies/programs, to reflect a more complete range of federal drug control spending. The FY2013 Budget incorporated four additional federal agencies/programs, and the FY2014 Budget incorporates one additional federal program. In the FY2014 Budget, there are five priorities for which resources are requested across agencies: substance abuse prevention and substance abuse treatment (both of which are considered demand- reduction areas), and drug interdiction, domestic law enforcement, and international partnerships (the three of which are considered supply-reduc tion areas). The FY2014 Budget proposes to use 58.0% of the funds ($14.723 billion) for supply-side functions and 42.0% of the funds ($10.670 billion) for demand-side functions. Federal drug control activities were appropriated $24.536 billion for FY2013 (P.L. 113-6).
In considering ONDCP’s reauthorization, there are several issues on which policymakers may deliberate. Congress may consider whether to authorize specific supply-reduction or demand- reduction programs. Congress may also exercise oversight regarding ONDCP’s implementation of evidenced-based activities. Another issue that might be debated is whether the revised Budget structure captures the full scope of the nation’s anti-drug activities. Further, ONDCP has created a new Performance Reporting System (PRS) to eval uate annual progress toward each of the Drug Control Program’s strategic goals. Congress ma y exercise oversight regarding the new PRS.
Economic Benefits of Increasing Electric Grid Resilience to Weather Outages (PDF)
Source: Executive Office of the President
Severe weather is the leading cause of power outages in the United States. Between 2003 and 2012, an estimated 679 widespread power outages occurred due to severe weather. Power outages close schools, shut down businesses and impede emergency services, costing the economy billions of dollars and disrupting the lives of millions of Americans. The resilience of the U.S. electric grid is a key part of the nation’s defense against severe weather and remains an important focus of President Obama’s administration.
In June 2011, President Obama released A Policy Framework for the 21st Century Grid which set out a four-pillared strategy for modernizing the electric grid. The initiative directed billions of dollars toward investments in 21st century smart grid technologies focused at increasing the grid’s efficiency, reliability, and resilience, and making it less vulnerable to weather-related outages and reducing the time it takes to restore power after an outage occurs.
Grid resilience is increasingly important as climate change increasesthe frequency and intensity of severe weather. Greenhouse gas emissions are elevating air and water temperatures around the world. Scientific research predicts more severe hurricanes, winter storms, heat waves, floods and other extreme weather events being among the changes in climate induced by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gasses.
This report estimates the annual cost of power outages caused by severe weather between 2003 and 2012 and describes various strategies for modernizing the grid and increasing grid resilience. Over this period, weather-related outages are estimated to have cost the U.S. economy an inflation-adjusted annual average of $18 billion to $33 billion. Annual costs fluctuate significantly and are greatest in the years of major storms such as Hurricane Ike in 2008, a year in which cost estimates range from $40 billion to $75 billion, and Superstorm Sandy in 2012, a year in which cost estimates range from $27 billion to $52 billion. A recent Congressional Research Service study estimates the inflation-adjusted cost of weather-related outages at $25 to $70 billion annually (Campbell 2012). The variation in estimates reflects different assumptions and data used in the estimation process. The costs of outages take various forms including lost output and wages, spoiled inventory, delayed production, inconvenience and damage to the electric grid. Continued investment in grid modernization and resilience will mitigate these costs over time – saving the economy billions of dollars and reducing the hardship experienced by millions of Americans when extreme weather strikes.
The Economic Benefits of Fixing Our Broken Immigration System
Source: Executive Office of the President
America has always been a nation of immigrants, and throughout the nation’s history, immigrants from around the globe have kept our workforce vibrant, our businesses on the cutting edge, and helped to build the greatest economic engine in the world. However, America’s immigration system is broken and has not kept pace with changing times. Today, too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers and there are 11 million people living and working in the shadow economy. Neither is good for the economy or the country.
The Senate’s Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744) represents the best chance that our country has had in years to modernize our immigration system. The President urges the House of Representatives to take action and move this bill or similar legislation forward, and stands willing to work with all parties to make sure that commonsense immigration reform becomes a reality as soon as possible.
During a meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus this morning, the President released a White House report highlighting the extensive economic benefits of comprehensive immigration reform – and the significant costs to our country and our economy of failing to act at this critical time.
Economists, business leaders, and American workers agree – we must take advantage of this historic opportunity to fix our broken immigration system. At stake is a stronger, more dynamic, and faster growing economy that will foster job creation, higher productivity and wages, and entrepreneurship.
National Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy (PDF)
Source: Office of National Drug Control Policy (White House)
Substantially reduce the flow of illicit drugs, drug proceeds, and associated instruments of violence across the Southwest border
1. Enhance criminal intelligence and information sharing capabilities and processes associated with the Southwest border
2. Interdict drugs, drug proceeds, and associated instruments of violence at the ports of entry along the Southwest border
3. Interdict drugs, drug proceeds, and associated instruments of violence between the ports of entry along the Southwest border
4. Interdict drugs, drug proceeds, and associated illicit activities in the air and maritime domains along the Southwest border
5. Disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations operating along the Southwest border by increasing investigations and prosecutions
6. Stem the flow of illicit proceeds across the Southwest border into Mexico
7. Stem the flow of illegal weapons across the Southwest border into Mexico
8. Develop strong and resilient communities that resist criminal activity and promote healthy lifestyles
9. Enhance U.S.–Mexico cooperation on joint counterdrug efforts